Inflammatory Foods List: 17 Foods That Poison The Body [Infographic]

inflammatory foods

Inflammatory Foods List: 17 Foods That Poison The Body [Infographic]

You can’t put your finger on it, but something doesn’t feel right.

You’ve been tired; your joints ache, and there’s a strange melancholy to your mood.

You try eating better, but still can’t shake the feeling that your diet is taking you down a dangerous path.

Freedom from disease is not always about eating more healthy foods; avoiding harmful foods is equally important.

Remove these 17 inflammatory foods from your diet, so you can stop worrying about heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disorders, arthritis, and cancer, not to mention your weight.

Quick List of Inflammatory Foods

(Click on any item on the inflammatory foods list below to see more details.)

1. Sugar
2. Soda & Sports Drinks
3. Fully Hydrogenated Oils
4. Trans Fats
5. Milk
6. Fried Foods
7. Saturated Fats
8. Grain-Fed Meats
9. Processed Meats
10. Alcohol in High Amounts
11. Refined Carbohydrates
12. Gluten
13. Artificial Sweeteners
14. MSGs
15. Preservatives, Artificial Colors, and Flavors
16. Ready-To-Eat Meals
17. Personal Food Intolerances

Post It Or Print It – 17 Inflammatory Foods


Download & Print The Inflammatory Foods List

Post The Inflammatory Foods List to Facebook, Pinterest & Twitter (Scroll Over Picture)

One-Minute Explanation of Inflammation

Inflammation is not always a bad thing.

Inflammation fights off bacteria, heals wounds, and cleans up infections.

But constant inflammation – caused by eating items on this inflammatory foods list – breaks down healthy tissues leading to disease.

So, inflammation is a lot like criticism.

Constructive criticism from a caring teacher helps you perform better, but constant criticism from mean-spirited individuals breaks you down.

Self-Paced Slideshow of 17 Inflammatory Foods

Inflammatory Foods List – 17 Foods To Remove From Your Diet

1. Sugar

Sugar triggers the release of two inflammatory substances: cytokines and advanced glycation endproducts (AGE’s).

Cytokine production is a normal part of the healing process, but the continual release of cytokines due to high amounts of sugar in the Standard American Diet (SAD) causes a release of free radicals that attack healthy cells.

AGEs damage and age your brain. Dale Cudmore has a great explanation of AGEs here.

2. Soda & Sports Drinks

High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is the basic ingredient in soda and energy or sport’s drinks, like Red Bull and Gatorade, cause a rapid blood sugar surge that results in a wave of inflammatory reactions.

Additionally, these drinks contain preservatives and artificial colors, which also increase inflammation.

High fructose corn syrup is also one of the top 14 foods that cause brain fog.

3. Fully Hydrogenated Oils

Fully hydrogenated oils are found in many packaged snack foods, baked goods, chips, margarine, and peanut butter.

These oils create an imbalance between omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance produces inflammatory chemicals.

Fully hydrogenated oils are created by food manufacturers to make foods more solid and improve their shelf life. This man-made change is why you can keep a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard for a few months without it going bad.

Cheap oils, like corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, peanut, cottonseed oil, and vegetable oil are not solid at room temperature, so food manufacturers hydrogenate them.

4. Trans Fats

Trans fats are also known as partially hydrogenated oil. They are related to fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, but not the same thing.

A study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found a link between trans fats and full-body inflammation, which raises your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Trans fats are found in fast foods, fried foods, cookies, cakes, crackers, and packaged snack foods.

5. Milk


Milk is a common inflammatory food. It’s estimated that 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant.

Being lactose intolerant means you have trouble digesting the sugar in milk called lactose. Lactose intolerant people lack the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down the milk sugar.

The result is an inflammatory response that produces stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, skin rashes, and trouble breathing.

The proteins in milk (casein and whey) may also trigger an inflammatory response; making dairy products a double inflammatory food for some people.

6. Fried Foods

The oil used to fry foods is high in omega-6 fatty acids. Eating these foods creates an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6, which creates inflammation.

French fries and potato chips are cooked to extremely high temperatures, which creates an inflammatory chemical called acrylamide. The World Health Organization states that high levels of acrylamide in foods pose a major health concern.

7. Saturated Fats

Cheese, fatty beef, and butter, which are staples of the American diet, promote inflammation.

Choline, which is a substance found in dairy foods and meat, is converted to pro-inflammatory compounds by gut bacteria.

A high intake of saturated fats is also associated with obesity, which feeds the inflammatory process. Enlarged fat cells in an obese person recruit macrophages (large cells that fight infection), which promotes the inflammatory response.

8. Grain-Fed Meats

Animals raised commercially (or, factory-farmed) are fed high amounts of soybeans, corn and other grains that are high in omega-6 fats, and low in omega-3 fats. This imbalance alters the fat content, leaving grain-fed meats high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

Grain-fed meat also contains hormones and antibiotics, which add inflammation.

The healthier alternative is grass-fed, pasture-raised organic meats raised without hormones or antibiotics.

(Dr. Mark Hyman has a nice video and article that tackles the question, Is Meat Good or Bad for You?)

9. Processed Meats

Deli meats, lunch meats, hot dogs, and similar items that have been smoked, cured, canned, salted or chemically preserved are inflammatory foods.

These foods allow for the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which increase inflammation.

Many processed meats are cooked at high temperatures, which also promote the production of inflammatory chemicals.

10. Alcohol in High Amounts

Light alcohol consumption (1 to 7 drinks per week) may lower inflammatory markers.

But, more than 7 drinks per week promote inflammation.

11. Refined Carbohydrates

White bread, pasta, flour, crackers, and low-fiber cereals stimulate the production of inflammation-causing advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

These foods also create a blood sugar spike that results in an inflammatory state.

12. Gluten


Gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley is what gives bread and dough its desirable chewy texture.

Gluten is common in bread, but can also be found in baked goods, soups, pasta, cereal, sauces, and salad dressings.

The body of a person who is sensitive to gluten sees the protein as a foreign pathogen and triggers inflammation as a response.

According to The Gluten Free Society, sensitivity to gluten can cause gut inflammation as well as inflammation of the muscles and joints leading to chronic pain.

13. Artificial Sweeteners

Equal, NutraSweet and other Aspartame-containing sweeteners are commonly used in foods and beverages to make them sugar-free.

Some people can develop sensitivity to aspartame that inflames joints, causes breathing problems, headaches, skin rashes and swelling (eyelids, lips).

If you drink a lot of diet soda, eat a lot of “light” or “sugar-free” foods, or add artificial sweeteners to your food, I encourage you to read this article by Richard J. Sabates, M.D that details his shocking personal account of joint pain caused by aspartame.

14. MSGs

Used as a flavor enhancer in Chinese food, MSGs (monosodium glutamate) promote liver inflammation.

In a study, mice that were injected with MSGs developed significant inflammation, abdominal obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

15. Preservatives, Artificial Colors, and Flavors

Unnatural additives designed to increase shelf life or make foods more visually appealing or flavorful are not recognized as food by your body.

Viewed as foreign invaders, the body creates inflammation as part of an immune response to defend against the unknown substance.

16. Ready-To-Eat Meals

These highly processed meals contain many of the harmful elements from this inflammatory foods list, including fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, MSGs, preservatives, artificial colors, sugar, and refined carbs.

Whether packaged in a freezer bag, box or can, these meals are easy to prepare, but their ability to cause inflammation can lead to long-term health consequences and chronic pain.

17. Personal Food Intolerances

Allergies and intolerances are not the same for everyone, so it’s worth noting that any food that you don’t tolerate well could trigger an inflammatory response.

Common food intolerances include corn, nuts, eggs, wheat, soy, and dairy products.

If these foods lead to discomfort, it’s possible that eating them creates a chronic low-grade inflammatory response in your body.

What Foods Are NOT on The Inflammatory Foods List?

Reading this list of 17 inflammatory foods can leave you scratching your head, and wondering what you can eat.

Anti-inflammatory foods are foods that are closest to their whole or natural state, such as…

  • Fruit and Berries
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Nuts & Seeds

If improving your health and losing weight are goals you want to achieve, then watch my free video series: 4 Daily Habits For Healthy Weight Loss.

When you follow those 4 habits on a daily basis, you fill your body with high-quality foods and have less room for the harmful items on this inflammatory foods list.

About the Author

Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.

4 Daily Habits That Give Your Body No Choice But to Lose Weight

Get Free Access

Enter your information below for instant access to the strategy & free video series that explains how to get the most out of the strategy! 

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Get Dr. Becky's 4 Daily Habits for Weight Loss